Uni responds to anti-vaccine views

The UOW issued a statement distancing itself from Ms Wilyman's comments.
The UOW issued a statement distancing itself from Ms Wilyman's comments.

A University of Wollongong senior research fellow has raised concerns about Judy Wilyman's comments on the McCaffery case with the University of Wollongong.

Dr Matthew Berryman, from the SMART Infrastructure Facility, said Ms Wilyman had used the case of four-week-old Dana McCaffery's death from whooping cough, against the wishes of her family, to support an "unscientific argument against vaccination".

The UOW issued a statement distancing itself from Ms Wilyman's comments.

"Articles and associated comments published by Judy Wilyman on the internet, on vaccination issues, are her own personal views and not those of the university," the statement said.

"Judy Wilyman is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Wollongong through the Faculty of Arts.

"She has followed all the necessary procedures required of her, including ethical guidelines set down by the university, in the course of her candidature.

"The UOW strongly supports the rights of academic freedom for people to openly express their points of view."

Dr Berryman responded: "While I'm a big supporter of academic freedom, I somehow don't think that academic freedom extends to ... making unscientific claims discouraging people from seeking appropriate preventative measures for life-threatening diseases," he said.

"I would humbly suggest the university take its duty of care to the McCaffery family and the broader community seriously."

Ms Wilyman has been contacted several times by the Mercury but so far has not issued any response. Her website called About Vaccination Decisions, says she had been a science teacher for 20 years and began researching vaccinations in 2004.

"I have lectured in environmental health at Murdoch University and given community talks on vaccination. I am currently completing my PhD in environmental health policy at the University of Wollongong. I have three children - two vaccinated and one unvaccinated.

"This website has been set up because there are many community members concerned about the information being provided to the public about vaccination. The issues presented here are not pro or anti-vaccination but about choice in vaccination. It is my belief that a medical procedure should be promoted to the public on the risks and benefits of the procedure and not tied to financial incentives or other benefits. I believe that the decision to use drugs/vaccines in our bodies is a fundamental human right. This decision should also be made without fear of losing tax benefits, work or qualifications."